People in Rohnert Park and Cotati and beyond aren’t just sitting and shaking their heads following the raiding of the treasury for Project Graduation at Rancho Cotate High School and the mid-county area’s smaller public high schools.
“We felt terrible,” said Duaine Labno, a firefighter-police officer for Rohnert Park and vice president of city’s Public Safety Officers Association.
So association members are planning a Project Grad benefit breakfast for May 13, and in addition they will donate $5,000 to the community effort to restore the missing funds to the parents group that hosts the safe-and-sober graduation party.
People wishing to make donations to Project Grad have several options.
There is a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/help-support-project-grad-2017.
Alternately, checks made payable to Cotati-Rohnert Park Project Graduation can be dropped off at Rancho Cotate High School or Technology High School, or mailed to P.O. Box 702, Cotati 94931.
Public safety officer Labno said donors also are invited to drop donations at Rohnert Park’s fire station No. 2 at Golf Course and Country Club drives.
That firehouse will be the site of the safety officer association’s pancake breakfast, set to start at 8 a.m. on May 13. The officers will accept donations and will give every dollar to Project Grad.
Rep Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, has volunteered to help cook.
Many businesses and civic groups also are donating to the parents group’s effort to gather at least $30,000 for this year’s Project Grad parties. Members of the nonprofit discovered late in March that their treasury of $50,000 had been stolen.
On April 13, Rohnert Park Public Safety officers went to the Santa Rosa home of Mary David, the Project Grad treasurer, and arrested her on suspicion of embezzling the funds. Officers said David, 37, admitted to taking and spending the money.
Officer Labno said the community response to the theft has been overwhelming, and that members of the public safety association are preparing for a big turnout at the May 13 breakfast.
“The biggest thing,” he said, “is we want to make sure these kids have a sober graduation and are set off to the future in the right way.”
Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.